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Fishing cultures: marine fisheries and sense of place in coastal communities

Fishing cultures: marine fisheries and sense of place in coastal communities

Urquhart, Julie and Acott, Timothy (2011) Fishing cultures: marine fisheries and sense of place in coastal communities. In: "It's Not Just About the Fish": social and cultural perspectives of sustainable marine fisheries, 4-5 Apr 2011, Greenwich, London, UK. (Unpublished)

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In addition to the economic impact that fisheries have, fishing is important for many coastal towns more broadly in terms of identity, place character and cultural heritage. The meanings that people attach to fishing places are representative of a range of social, historic, political and cultural processes and contribute to the construction of a particular sense of place. There is increasing recognition in Europe that fisheries and marine policy, such as the Common Fisheries Policy and the Integrated Maritime Policy, need to more explicitly incorporate social and cultural objectives in order to achieve sustainability of fish stocks and coastal communities. Using case study material from coastal communities in Sussex and Cornwall, this paper explores the contribution of marine fisheries to sense of place and the importance of place identity for both local communities and related industries such as tourism. Case studies included fishing places at a range of scales, from large industrial fishing ports, such as Newlyn, to tiny fishing coves with a handful of fishing boats launched from the beach. The study draws on qualitative data from interviews with a range of stakeholders, including fishermen, fishing families, residents, artists, heritage providers, tourism providers and industry representatives. We argue that fishing is important for communities not just as a means of earning a living, but is a way of life with more deeply embedded cultural relationships. Initial analysis of the results suggests that, for many coastal communities, fishing is important in defining place character, community and personal identity, as well having a rich cultural heritage linked to fishing. A fishing sense of place also contributes to the appeal of a place for tourism, and is used to market destinations. Yet sense of place is also defined by the product, the fish themselves. Particular species are associated with different places at different times of the year, and with the growing importance of provenance, place marketing of products (such as the rebranding of the pilchard as the Cornish sardine) roots them in a particular locale. Furthermore, all fishing places are influenced and shaped by regional, national, European and even international policies, with, for instance, quota restricting the species and number of fish that can be caught, or designations such as Marine Conservation Zones potentially restricting areas of inshore waters which can be fished. Thus, a deeper understanding of the contribution of marine fisheries, especially the inshore small-scale sector, to sense of place provides an important resource that decision-makers can draw upon for incorporating social and cultural goals in fisheries and maritime policy.

Item Type: Conference or Conference Paper (Paper)
Additional Information: [1] This paper forms part of the 8th session of the conference which has the title "Sense of Place and Identity in Fishing Communities." [2] Paper also presented at RGS-IBG Annual International Conference, held 1-3 September 2010, London, UK (see -
Uncontrolled Keywords: inshore fishing, sense of place, tourism, fisheries policy
Subjects: S Agriculture > SH Aquaculture. Fisheries. Angling
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Engineering & Science > School of Science (SCI)
Related URLs:
Last Modified: 07 Dec 2016 15:26

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